Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two years on...

To celebrate the second anniversary of the kidney transplant (31 October 2007), at breakfast this morning I gave Nancy the new edition of the Van Gogh Letters. Given all the Van Gogh-related translation work that Nancy has done in the past two decades (currently she's working on a book about Van Gogh forgeries), it seemed doubly appropriate. Also the CD of the letters that comes with the set is likely to be a useful resource.

The book had a big launching at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam the day before I flew to the US several weeks ago. Nancy went the next day with Diane Webb, one of the book's three English-language translators. Here's an extract from a letter Nancy sent me that evening:

"What a lovely day! Diane asked if I wanted to go with her to the Van Gogh Museum to see the new exhibition on the letters. She had been there the evening before for the opening (attended by the Queen), but so much else was happening that she didn't actually see the exhibition. She said all she saw was wine and canapes and lots of people. So we spent the rest of the day there. It was fabulous. The exhibition is definitely worth a visit. A selection of Van Gogh's letters are shown in glass cases, with the paintings and drawings he refers to on the walls. Breathtaking. You just can't believe what you're seeing. No catalogue, no matter how good the picture quality, comes close to being face to face with the real thing. And I saw the book -- or should I say books! Diane showed me the whole thing, including the part she did. I have a very serious book lust here. You wouldn't believe how beautiful the design and quality is. A six-volume boxed set. To get a glimpse, check out the museum site:

"The whole thing is copiously illustrated with everything that Vincent refers to in his letters -- his own paintings and sketches and paintings of other artists that he refers to. And the quality is superb. Each of the three translators is being given two copies. When you come back we really should try to see the exhibition."

It's an expensive set of books, but a substantial discount is offered by several online bookshops.

Two years on with Nancy's kidney, I seem more than ever aware of what a miracle it is to be really well, not to say no longer being a prisoner of dialysis.

There is a folder of transplant-related photos here:


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